From £16,501
Can’t quite match a Qashqai or a Kuga for dynamics, but good value

Our Verdict

Hyundai ix35 crossover

The Hyundai ix35 is a style-conscious soft-roader with lots of kit, but what about ability?

30 November 2009

What is it?

This is a car with a lot on its plate. The ix35 is the replacement for the Tucson, Hyundai’s good-value proposition in the soft-roader market. But at the same time, the firm would love it to steal sales from lifestyle ‘crossover’ models, principally the Nissan Qashqai.

Those parameters have presumably been fed into some Korean supercomputer, which has number-crunched the following result: a car that’s bigger than the Tucson and the Qasqhai, but marginally smaller than a Ford Kuga. It's a decent-looking machine, too; there’s more than a touch of latter-day Infiniti about the multiple creases on the ix35’s flanks, but they do a good job of disguising its bulk.

When the car launches next spring, it will have just half of its eventual engine line-up: a 2.0 petrol and this 2.0 diesel. Hyundai is pinning big hopes to the smaller-capacity units that are due next autumn, a 1.6-litre petrol emitting 149g/km of CO2 and a new 1.7-litre diesel – in effect a bored-out version of the motor already used in the i30 – that will emit 139g/km. They both use stop-start to achieve these figures.

There is a more potent 182bhp 2.0-litre oil-burner, incidentally, but Hyundai UK sources say the firm is “unlikely” to bring it to Britain.

What’s it like?

Make no mistake: this is not a small car. The ix35 is almost 10cm longer than the Qashqai, and it feels every millimetre of that when you’re behind the wheel. In fact, while it’s ever so slightly narrower than a Kuga, it feels bigger; thick C-pillars don’t do all-round visibility many favours, and you sit up high compared with a Qashqai.

Still, the size does come in handy in the cabin, which feels more like a genuine SUV’s than a compromised crossover’s. There’s plenty of head and leg room all round; even with a 6ft driver up front, a similarly sized passenger will be perfectly comfortable behind him. The seats are pretty flat, but comfortable, and fit and finish are acceptable; soft-touch plastics are nowhere to be seen, but it’s durable rather than nasty.

On the road the Hyundai’s 2.0-litre turbodiesel motor doesn’t feel overawed by the car’s size; if anything, it’s a little too easy to light up the front tyres on all but bone-dry roads. Once your right foot learns to compensate for this, though, it’s easy to make rapid progress. The engine is gutsy from about 1500rpm, and while there’s a little more to come at 3500rpm, you’ll be ready to change up by then. The gearbox is a little baggy, but quick enough with a positive throw.

In handling terms, the ix35 feels more like a regular SUV than either the Qashqai or the Kuga. Body control is surprisingly decent, but this has come with a slight cost in ride quality, which is more easily unsettled and less subtly damped than the Ford’s. And while the steering feels accurate on the whole, it’s a little vague around the straight-ahead.

The ix35 is reasonably refined on motorways, where wind and road noise are well suppressed. But sixth gear is perhaps a little too short for British speeds; the engine is a little too noisy beyond 2500rpm, and you’ll be very close to that figure at 70mph.

Should I buy one?

The ix35 fails to nail one category convincingly, without ever causing real offence. With that in mind, its proposition could well come down to value – and it’s well placed to take deliver on that front. Our Premium model came equipped with 18in alloys, climate control, keyless entry and go, automatic headlights, folding door mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, heated seats, leather trim, panoramic sunroof and USB/iPod connectivity – yet when it goes on sale next spring, this variant is confidently tipped to sneak under £20,000.

At that price, and with that much kit, it’s well placed to embarrass the range-topping front-drive Qashqai diesel - which costs £22k – and offer a superior five-year warranty to boot. And when you consider that base ix35s could start as low as £16k, it’s hard to see how the car will not add to Hyundai’s burgeoning sales success in the UK.

John McIlroy

Join the debate


2 December 2009

Wow! That front is a mess. It looks as though it is wearing a plastic moustache.

Where has all Japanese design went to?

2 December 2009

So who is the 182bhp diesel for if not us then?

As you say it doesn't excel in any area, a high performance (in this price range) version would be an obvious USP!


2 December 2009

just when things started to look good for hyundai they got back to their old form what a mess

2 December 2009

Not overly impressive really. The i10, i20 and i30 are pretty well resolved designs, even if they are a bit bland (remind me of late 90s Japanese cars, good shape, age well, but not very stylish). This is a complete mess. Are Hyundai really that unsure on the engine range? They come across as being quite indesicive, or is that just the wording on the article?

6 December 2009

I disagree with all of you. I think this is the perfect design to move Hyundai from blandness. Get used to it, becuase the i10, i20, and i30 will get this Face when they get refreshed.

Please, Please Car God allow Hyundai/KIA to bring Diesel Trucks here to the US

6 December 2009

[quote HyundaiSmoke]I disagree with all of you[/quote]

There's a surprise... This car is a mess and the front end is poor, especially given that it is pretty similar to the new Chevrolet front end, of which I am also not a fan (looks better on the spark than on the aveo/malibu etc)

6 December 2009

It's well Executed John McIlroy, and that's what matters, right?

Think about this for a second, sure the plastics have a hard yet durable feeling to them, but in markets like the US "Aspirational" near luxury competitors like: MINI, Mercury, Buick, Chrysler have the same plastics. US CEO calls Hyundai an "Aspriational" brand now. You may think this is funny, but Hyundai's new products puts the Japanese to shame, trumps the Americans in trying to get better, and makes the Germans look overpriced at least in this US market.

The US version will get rain sensing wipers too, and nobody has that here in this Light Truck/CUV segment except: Benz, Audi, BMW, Lexus, and Infiniti. You may not like the hard-durable plastics, but Hyundai had to cut costs somewhere to provide features such as rain sensing wipers and still provide the value Hyundai is known for.

6 December 2009

"There's a surprise... This car is a mess and the front end is poor, especially given that it is pretty similar to the new Chevrolet front end, of which I am also not a fan (looks better on the spark than on the aveo/malibu etc)"

theonlydt, Actually it was Chevrolet who copied off of us. We had the design studies before they even had those cars with that face out. Or, have you forgotten about 2006 concept called the QarmaQ, or the Veloster Concept with its upside down Hexagon.

Also, Hyundai uses a Hexagonal shape. Chevy uses a streched quadrilateral shape. It looks very different to Chevy, and Ford for you people who think we stole the grille off a Ford Kuga.

I think this Grille Is Stunning and Hyundai should use it for now on as the company signature grille on CUV/Hatch products.

6 December 2009

[quote HyundaiSmoke]Think about this for a second, sure the plastics have a hard yet durable feeling to them, but in markets like the US "Aspirational" near luxury competitors like: MINI, Mercury, Buick, Chrysler have the same plastics[/quote]

You just don't get it do you? This is a reviewing website for cars due into the UK market. Therefore they are judged against other cars available within that market. At that price range the interior plastics usually are "soft touch" and of a much higher quality than in the US market - therefore this car gets assessed against those rivals.

Could you please, please stop your pro-Hyundai ranting? We honestly don't give a **** what the US CEO of Hyundai says (press-speak) about Hyundai cars. What people want to know on this site is how this car compares to the competition available in the UK. If you don't like that - go to a US based review site.

6 December 2009

[quote HyundaiSmoke]Also, Hyundai uses a Hexagonal shape. Chevy uses a streched quadrilateral shape[/quote]

It's not the shape - it's the placement of a prominent bar of body colour across the nose of the car. Anyone looking at the chevy range and comparing it to this car will see a similarity. The chevy equinox front end for example.

Did I state that Hyundai copied this design? I just said it's similar to the Chevy design that I don't like - hence I also don't like this front end. The rest of the car seems poorly resolved - though in the metal it may be a "grower" as a couple of cars have been recently.


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